Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My very own "night before release" and the estimated 341$ revenue

Tomorrow is the day that I will press the "Release this version" button to release the game.

So.. this is the night before release I have heard many times from indie dev stories? Let me share mine now.

I once imagined I would like a crazy party night and my team would get together to help look out for mistakes. On the launch day we would test the game til dawn together to find left over bugs and once released, we will brainstorm together what marketing strategy we will come up afterwards.

You see, the reality is not working that way.

The room is quiet. I was alone talking to one of my teammate via Facebook messenger about when to press the button tomorrow. My mother apparently knew about this too, and she suggest some good day and time based on beliefs and lucky numbers.

My team manage to this point without anyone other than myself quitting the day job. (For my case, I quit because I have to go to Japan for 2 year master degree this 28 September.) So my dream night is not feasible. Everyone is preparing for his/her tomorrow's work, as usual. It's a bit disappointing night I guess... but I can't do much about it.

I'm reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson right now, because I now have my very own creative legal entity I thought I might gain something from it. It was indeed a good read for any startup, but what I wanted to point out now is that I can share with him the strive for perfect-ness.

The big programming bug has been found (it was my own code!) but to fix that I have to cancel the version and upload new ones. For that, it would took another half months and would not make it in time before I goes to Japan. I don't want that to happen, as I wanted to have a postmortem meeting and nice dinner with my team, with the knowing that our game has finally been released. I go ahead with the release and will upload a fix afterwards.

This unsettled me. The very first group of people to get the game was all very loyal customers (in other words, my friends and family.) and I'm going to betray their expectation by shipping a product with bug so obvious to my eyes. This is insulting. For all the trust they put in me this is unacceptable.

The promotional video scheduled to release tomorrow also still sucks. I have revised it over 10 times already (but the version number is at V3) but somehow the pacing is still too fast. But the current arrangement is already tightly timed with my own homemade music. (which is an extended version of title theme) It was frustrating that I know it's felt weird but I can't make it right. The music is also thrown off-sync by about 0.1s~0.2s when uploaded to YouTube.

The website also looked horrible. I was not an art person but no one is doing it so I must. The layout is too messy right now, but I have no more time to fix it.

All these imperfection I'm forced to release to the world tomorrow. I can't stand it.

Having read many indie game article about how their first game flop badly, I began panicked whether the game will sell or not. Then I went to forecast the humble revenue my team hopefully will receive. In the end the calculation shows that I will got about 341$ before the sale wanned out into the so-called "long tail" in about a month. (There are also technique that can turns "long tail" into "Stegosaurus tail"! Search for it.)

1 year of work that results in 341$ is... not a bad deal I guess? Considering everyone still get their salary.

Cleansed my bad thoughts that the 341$ revenue was too damn low, I goes on thinking about what I should do about that 341$.

Turned out this moment is much more fun than I expected. What is priced at about 341$? Maybe I would get an Intuos Pro? Maybe a new, lighter tripod for my adventure to Japan? Or maybe I should save this money to order new 61-keys midi controller at Japan? (I probably don't want to carry my big 10-years old key board, with integrated christmas and Star Wars theme song, to Japan.)

I then began searching for the best 61-keys midi controller. It took a whole 2 hours. I goes through many nice brands I haven't updated with for a while. (FYI the one I settled with was Alesis VI61. Can't wait!)

Suddenly, the 341$ I calculated became much more than mere money. When I was still getting salary (which is more than 2x of this amount), I never have this "What should I do about my hard-earned money!?" thought. The amount does not matter, its the source that it came from. As in this Steve Jobs book said : "The journey itself is a reward."

I wish I have all my friends right now to panic with me. Would be a lot of fun with maybe a tray of pizza and carbonated drinks.

That's it for my night before release.

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